Invokana Attorneys Appointed to Leadership Roles In Federal MDL

As a growing number of Invokana lawsuits continue to be added to the recently established federal multidistrict litigation (MDL), each raising similar allegations that the new generation diabetes drug caused users to suffer diabetic ketoacidosis, kidney failure, heart attacks and other injuries, the U.S. District Judge presiding over the claims has appointed a group of attorneys to serve in various leadership roles during the coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings. 

In December 2016, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) ordered that cases filed throughout the federal court system will be transferred to U.S. District Judge Brian Martinotti in the District of New Jersey to reduce duplicative discovery into common issues, avoid conflicting pretrial rulings and to serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and the judicial system.

Each of the lawsuits indicate that Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals subsidiary failed to adequately research the potential side effects of Invokana, or properly warn users and the medical community about serious health risks associated with switching to the new drug, which was just introduced in March 2013.

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At the time the litigation was centralized as part of an MDL, there were approximately 55 cases pending nationwide. However, according to an updated docket list (PDF) issued by the U.S. JPML on January 17, there are already at least 100 lawsuits pending before Judge Martinotti. In addition, as Invokana attorneys nationwide continue to review and file claims over the coming months and years, it is ultimately expected that several thousand cases will be included in the litigation.

In a case management order (PDF) issued last week, Judge Martinotti appointed two attorneys to serve as co-lead counsel, one attorney to serve as liaison counsel, three attorneys to serve on an executive committee, and eight attorneys to be part of a Plaintiffs Steering Committee. These lawyers will take certain actions during the MDL proceedings that benefit all plaintiffs who are pursuing a case, coordinating and managing discovery during the MDL proceedings, and arguing motions before the Court.

Invokana (canagliflozin) was the first member of a new generation diabetes drug to hit the market in recent years, known as sodium glucose cotransporter 2 (SGLT-2) inhibitors, which work in a unique way by altering some normal kidney functions to increase the amount of suger excreted in the urine. Other members of this new class include Farxiga, Jardiance, Invokamet and others.

Amid aggressive marketing by Janssen, which encouraged diabetics to switch to this new treatment option, Invokana quickly became a top selling drug in the U.S. However, a number of serious health risks have also emerged, including increased incidents of diabetic ketoacidosis, heart attacks and kidney failure.

As part of the coordinated pretrial proceedings in the Invokana MDL, it is expected that Judge Martinotti will establish a bellwether program, which would prepare a small group of cases for early trial dates to help gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that is likely to be repeated throughout the litigation. However, following the test trials, if the manufacturer fails to reach Invokana settlement agreements or another resolution for the cases, hundreds of individual claims may be remanded back to U.S. District Courts nationwide for separate trial dates.


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